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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  April 13, 2012 12:30am-1:00am EDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. the budget about in washington is set out to be a critical issue in the general election as both parties dig in their heels on spending priorities. in view from the debate on the key democrat from the ways and with a meeting of -- committee of california. and growing up on a reservation in minnesota, he is now author of the critically acclaimed detect " -- text "rez life." >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like
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you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: javier represents the thirty first district including the studio. we moved to a new studio earlier this year, so we are in your district now. >> don't go anywhere. tavis: i might be wanting some favors, though. can i say that on pbs? can i bribed congressmen on national television? he is a ranking member of the subcommittee. have you back. i hate to remind you of this but last time you were on this
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program, in the other studio, you had just taken on a new assignment and you failed miserably. the super committee had just been announced. i was glad there was an hispanic on the committee and an african american. what do you have to save yourself? >> i tried. but at the same time, common ground has to be perceived by all sides. i'm not going to cave to get a common ground. there are various dark visions of what moves this country forward. i suspect your book that is coming out will probably speak to those different divisions of america. we laid didn't succeed, forward in this super committee the elements of what could go forward. i just don't think there is enough animation on the
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republican side get to where we have got to go together. the darwinian kind of way of doing it, i got by then you have to get yours. tavis: i should mention, since you mentioned it, i wrote a book with a doctor on the views about poverty. we have a new book coming out called "direct at the rest of us happy " the book is out in a matter of days. -- "the rich and the rest of us." the book comes out in a matter of days, phil donahue is coming out of retirement to interview us on this program next monday night. back to what we're talking about, how do you believe this issue and the fact that the committee failed, that there
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are two visions of america. how will this play itself out, the deficit discussion on the campaign trail? >> until we get a clear understanding that the problem isn't just the government, but the problem is that the american people have to reconcile that we have got some deep divisions. and at the same time, this is and the america of old where we get to recession. a. we have a lot of competition around the world and we try to do this stuff together. when you held principally very wealthy folks and you expect the trickle-down effect help the folks in the bottom, you will not get there anymore. you have to reconcile the difference about the very conservative and a more moderate liberal side where they say you can't do anything with the tax code unless it is tax cuts. those of us on the democratic
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side are willing to say that if you want to reshape some of these programs to make them work, that is fine. but if we're going to make everyone except a little bit of pain, let spread it. why in the world should we allow 1500 millionaires to pay no taxes? that is what is happening. haute there were about 1500 multimillionaires that paid zero in taxes. >> mr. romney calls it the politics of envy. >> i call it the politics of america that if we all heartache, we all benefit. someone working as hard as someone that makes $40,000 and is paying taxes, all of us expect to contribute some. kids aren't illio --
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millionaires, they're contributing. >> the super committee could not get the job done. mr. romney is successful, whoever is in january, they will be faced with some automatic cuts across the board. give me what armageddon looks like next january. >> it is essentially a slow death. it is sucking the resources out of the infrastructure of america that makes this work. the education system, the transportation system. it is no longer investing in our schools the way that we used to. the pot holes make it essential
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that you pack it up. it is not having a communications system that is the best in the world. even though we invented the technology that lets others out and beat us. untiln't fix the house, the fix the water leaking from the roof. that is what happens if you don't invest in america. and the automatic sequester cuts and the hatchet cuts and don't look to see where the smart savings can be had. they try to come up with answers. tavis: call me a cynic, but why do i a believe that these cuts are going to happen as opposed to somehow, the cuts hitting the
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military do not go through. are there really going to happen across the board? >> i will always call you a friend, but we just saw a house republican budget that shelter the department of defense from any of those automatic cuts. the department of defense is supposed to contribute half of those cuts discretionary programs. the republicans put together a budget that would shelter the department of defense for many of those cuts. tavis: the ryan budget? >> it passed the house and i voted against it. i think that you were on the way to start the america that could be the force is always been. it is not the america where you
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or i grew up in. in those good old days, my dad found a way to put four kids through college working as a construction worker. i don't think there are a lot today that can look forward to having their kids going to college. >> if we are talking about shared sacrifice, how was that the congress agrees that these cuts are going to take place and we will see legislation that has already passed the house, we are not going to anything to the defense department. >> it created the super committee that i was appointed to serve on. she is going to live with those cuts now because that is the law. but if you have to pass this bill, get these cuts, and a year
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later sang, i don't like all of that, that is why you have the right to be a cynic. it doesn't look like shared sacrifice is the operative word. >> and before we get to the election, before we can get there, i have a budget that is going to be in the mix. what happens to this budget that the house has passed? >> is dead on arrival at the senate, but the republicans with the filibuster rule in the senate make it difficult to pass. and so we have a stalemate. the press of this of shutting down government, the press of this of not paying for our own national that, all of that to gain concessions from a very difficult collect oral year. we will put the politics aside, work within the framework that
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was created bill -- agree that we can stave off some of the worst parts of these cuts. educationet higher take a big hit. areas that are important, like funding for our troops, we do it in a smart way. can we do that? is a very political year. tavis: what happens if mr. romney chooses mr. rubio? what happens to the latino vote if they have to choose between obama? >> you vote for the person who will be the leader. romney-obama. looking at any number of issues like jobs, education, or
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anything else. not beenubio havs supportive of issues for latinos. i would not say that he will make them envious of him being on the ticket. tavis: you are working on a museum honoring latino heritage. >> some communities haven't had a chance to be a full part of the history, at least to display everything they have been part of. we're hoping that in the future, if the goodwill of the american people go with it, at one point we will have a place where folks will have a chance as they now do with how native americans. they will have a chance where
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they get the full contributions. tavis: it is good to see you. up next, a native american. the stay with us. >> david troyer teaches literature and creative writing, his latest book is the first work, a journey through reservation life. good to have you on the program. you are right about this that indian reservations are not as american as apple pie n.y. american as baseball. and yet we seem to know so much about life, so how to use make the argument that it is
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americana? >> we have been marion in trading for five years, and we have people's idea of us. part of the problem is the story that people liked it about reservations between us and our understanding. part of it was to find a way to tell us to bring people's attention to the fact that we are here and we continue to be here. we continue to be many things. tavis: you said that there should be a story on reservations, people like the tale about native americans. >> the story that people care
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about us is the story of tragedy, what people are most comfortable with. native people, native history is not something that we have buttonhook. it is something we have survived. it is the dominant mode of storytelling by native people. and you know how it is, how you were trained to tell a story. >> how obstructionist are the stereotypes about life on the reservation? i say stereotypes of one side of my mouth and that some of these facts are real. >> heart of the point of the book was to try to tell some stories that was true about reservation life and i ran into exactly that problem, we struggle with poverty and high rates of alcohol abuse. we struggle with life expectancy for native men, i think it is
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59, statistically. but much lower than the life expectancy for most american men. these are real problems. you communicate those things, you don't wallow in them. it is something that from the start was really hard to find some other way. at the same time, addressing real concerns and real issues. >> and the autobiographical here, since you're talking about stereotypes' and live on the reservation, i wonder to what extent you believe that all the focus on the reservations,
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casinos, you think about life on reservation and the word cassino was going to come up. we think every casino has a billion dollar casino on the land. >> it thinks that we are all poor or we think we're hall rich. recant please everybody, right? we are not living up to people's fantasies, the moral people going about. on the other hand, people resent the very few tribes that have very successful casinos as they somehow don't deserve that wealth that is an extension of their right to a sovereign nations to run casinos.
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of any force in the last 20 years in indian country, casinos rare the most important. they have changed the landscape dramatically for a lot of drugs. tavis: my friend of last summer started on, as we should have, native american reservation. so often these people are out of a larger american narrative. we did a week-long specialty on pbs about this poverty. we want to start on a reservation. we were asking many of the women on the reservation, i recall asking them what about the great recession? what impact has the great
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recession had? they said, what recession? it is always this way, it is worse. he lived with this every day, so the great recession no impact on native americans because conditions were always that bad. i wanted to ask more about your story because he seemed to be the exception to the rule. he went to princeton, you are taught by cornell, by toni morrison. laureate. lnobel >> there is a range of experiences, very few of which
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we recognized as authentic. there is a range of tribal identities, too. in line, it takes the cake. my father was an austrian jewish holocaust refugee and my mother from in a reservation. my brother was very ambitious and the thing he and i had watched a risky business and decided we would go to princeton. and we did. i met and got to work with professor morrison. and among others, it was exciting most anyone else when i was in college hold of me what it was possible to be critically engaged, and to be so meant not
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that you had to give up your origins, your place of community, but you had to bring the two together. i think that i don't know that i would be writing at all. >> those that did not grow up as fortunate as you, whether or not there is a resentment that forecloses on the hopes, dreams, and aspirations. resentment against the country, poverty, the way they have been mistreated. i could do this all night. can i stop now? >> i got it. just speaking of the communities that i know well, people are pretty clear. they have been analyzing political discourse and
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rhetoric for a long time. there are very few fools where i am from. that said, you expect a corresponding amount, but you don't see it. d.c. native people serving in the armed forces in the incredible numbers. but not foolishly. you see people engaged in all sorts of people -- a treatment for the poverty that you point out. unemployment runs at 60%. sixty. i have never seen such hustle and creative solutions to the predicament of the lack of gainful employment. >> how do you think it possible, and if so, how would it happen
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that the narrative about reservation life and about americans in this country, how would it, to the extent that it could, the story line change? >> it was ingrained in me, too. i lost my grandfather, my good friends, and it was hard for me to get out of that tragic mindset. by the end, i saw him reservations not as places of deficit. how they were places of surplus. if you can shift the narrative plane to one of abundance, it allows you to see things differently. don't think of poverty as a lack of things, but and the abundance of black -- an abundance of lack.
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likewise for crime. the chance to make a difference. i know you went to the reservation and you met with people at the emersion school. you people that are committed to the native language revitalization are transforming education by about 10,000 or 12,000 people. you let those people. -- met those people. tavis: final little bit about this being of african descent. -- i know a little bit about this being of african descent. when they take your language, it takes a long time to get back background. that is exactly why they do that, as we both know. you are making a good down payment on trying to change the narrative.
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>> i ask the lot of people to give a lot of themselves that talk on the record. i refused to let anyone use a pseudonym or to speak without speaking as themselves. if you're going to say something, you will say it on tape and with your name. he will take responsibility for it and i will do the same thing. i will put myself on the line. tavis: an indian's journey by david troyer. good to have you on the program. that is our show for tonight, see you next time on pbs. thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with
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a preview of this crucial talks with iran. i will see you then. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television]
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